My new secret baking weapon is salt.
It all began on my weekend get-away in Brooklyn, New York this past November. I was staying in Bushwick but ended up shopping along Bedford Ave. Naturally, I had to stop for soft-serve at Momofuku Milkbar.
Run by the now famous Christina Tosi, Milkbar's main inspiration is junk food. Salty chips, cereals, candy bars etc. etc. Basically, any sodium or calorie packed food from her childhood is folded, crushed or infused into her baking.
Alongside the junk food, high salt content is a defining feature of Tosi's. Her double chocolate cookies could be described as two parts chocolate and one part salt. Her soft-serves' corn flake topping is almost 50/50 sweet/salty.
Salt has become as much her signature as sugar.
In this simple and classic peanut butter cookie recipe, I've followed Tosi's lead and doubled-up the kosher salt. Then, just in case your sodium taste buds aren't overloaded already, I've folded in two full cups of mini pretzels before rolling each cookie in ANOTHER two cups of crushed pretzels.
Beware, this is exactly the kind of recipe people can become addicted to. The salt, the increased fat content from the peanut butter, and the smooth-but-crunchy texture are almost irresistible. Bake at your own risk ;)
On a final sodium note, it's not just this recipe you can add a salted finish too. Try increasing the salt content in all of your favourite dessert recipes. Imagine your famous fudge brownie finished with fleur de sel. Or that gorg' creme brulee you always make with a hit of sea salt.
The possibilities are almost endless.
Photography by Dixie Gong, a Toronto-based writer, photographer and stylist.
Peanut butter and pretzel cookies
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 cup peanut butter (preferably smooth)
4 cups mini pretzels
1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on high for two minutes. Scrape down the sides and cream for thirty more seconds.
3. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the peanut butter. Finally, beat in the flour until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and cream for a few final seconds.
4. In a large bowl, crush all of the pretzels just slightly (it's okay if a few are left whole). Take two cups of the pretzels and beat them into the cookie dough. Don't overbeat or you'll crush the pretzels too much.
5. Using an ice-cream scoop or 1/3 measuring cup, portion out the cookie dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and slightly press down on the tops to form round disks. Chill in a refrigerator for ten minutes to firm up slightly.
6. When the cookies are slightly chilled, roll or decorate the balls with the left over two cups of pretzels. They look best when the pretzels are all over the cookies, and not just in the centre. Put the cookies back in the refrigerator for one full hour - they will not bake properly if they aren't completely chilled.
7. Preheat the oven to 350F. Space the cookies out on the baking sheet so they're at least 3 inches apart. You will need to use more than one baking sheet or bake in a few batches.
8. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes or until just slightly golden on the edges. Don't over bake the cookies as they'll continue to bake slightly after taking them out of the oven.